Gerald L. Klingaman
Plant Common Name
The diverse, often beautiful, shrubs and small trees in the genus Viburnum are some of the most beloved for landscape and garden. There are approximately 200 to 300 species with hundreds more varieties, subspecies and cultivated varieties. Most naturally occurring variants predominate over north temperate regions worldwide, but a few adjunct species can be found in the high altitude regions of Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Favored habitats are forests, meadows and open woodlands. Some species are adapted to moist lowland soils while others require well-drained uplands.
Habit and size varies widely in Viburnum as does leaf size and shape. Most species have opposite leaves that are simple and may be deciduous or evergreen. Striking fall color is not uncommon in deciduous forms. The small, five-petaled flowers come in showy clusters that typically appear in spring or summer. Some species emit an intoxicating, sweet fragrance while others have lots of showy sterile flowers that subtend the fertile blooms. Flower color may be white, ivory, pink or rose and bees are the chief pollinators, though other insects will visit the blooms. Berry-like drupes follow the flowers. These range widely in size and color. Black, blue, pink, red and burgundy fruits are the most common.
Culture is species dependent as is landscape use and ornamental value. Please peruse our comprehensive list of Viburnum to learn more about these wonderful, garden worthy shrubs.